philadelphia

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2002.11.10         now look who's reenacting         I didn't have to read more than the first few paragraphs of what Muschamp writes in today's New York Times before the notion of writing something myself took over. Muschamp's first paragraph reads:        "Elizabeth Diller and Ricardo Scofidio have defined a new building type for the contemporary city: the urban viewing platform. Invention of this caliber doesn't turn up every day. Diller and Scofidio could spend the rest of their careers reworking this one idea over and over again and not be judged harshly for repeating themselves. The basic concept is that good, and its potential applications are various. Many cities will want to try out variations on the theme. But Boston will receive the first authentic edition in 2004, when the city's Institute of Contemporary Art is expected to open its doors."         The "urban viewing platform" is NOT a new invention created by Diller and Scofidio. Every time I visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art I also visit a quite remarkable "urban viewing platform." Of course, Philadelphia's "urban viewing platform" has already been embedded into popular culture via a climatic scene in the movie Rocky, as in "flying high now!" There is, however, much more culture embedded within Philadelphia's "Fairemount" in that it reenacts the Acropolis [and now the Vatican Hill too], which, incidentally, is much closer to the invention of the "urban viewing platform" than anything Diller and Scofidio ever did or do. So let's not confuse invention with what is really reenactment.         I didn't bother to finish reading Muschamp's piece because (I feel) its contents are predictable, thus I will write a little more about Philadelphia's viewing platform, which will probably be akin to things that Muschamp says. The stairs that Sylvester Stallone ran up in the movie also many times act as enormous theatrical seating with the head of the Benjamin Franklin ("inventor" of electricity, as long as invention awards are being passed around) Parkway as the stage and the Philadelphia skyline as backdrop. Beyond that, there are always a variety of life vignettes occurring on the steps and up in the Museum forecourt. I particularly like seeing wedding pictures taken up on the "viewing platform"/forecourt; it reminds me of a similar scene I once saw at the Campidoglio in Rome, which, incidentally, is another great "urban viewing platform" (and the view from the Campidoglio is the Campo Marzio! Wow, Quondam and the Campidoglio actually have something very much in common. Does that mean Quondam is also a reenactment of an "urban viewing platform?" My goodness, will reenactment wonders never cease?).         Ah reenactment! I'm so glad you're there, especially since so many so easily forget.

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